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TdF '21 Discussion Thread Stage 10 Jul06 SPOILER ALERT

Stage 10 is a 115-mile flat stage. Obviously a sprinter's stage. Well, actually a puncheur's stage with a sprinter's finish.

There are three modest climbs, at about one-third of the way, two-fifths of the way, and about four-fifths of the way. The mid-route sprinter points are at the peak of the second climb. From the final climb, there is about 15 miles of modest downhill, then about 5 miles of flat finish. This finish is straight, except for the final mile. The final mile has a right turn, then a broad right turn before a brief run to the finish.

I am not really sure how teams will approach all of this. Certainly, a safe breakaway may be allowed to survive. This could get pretty large, and so have a chance of surviving to the finish. The competition for the green jersey is pretty hot, AND dreams of GC podium have just faded for some teams, so the race for these mid-route sprinter points may be pretty hot. However, it will be a puncheur who will get them, with the points being at the top of a climb.

After that, I suspect that a large, non-threatening breakaway will be allowed to form. Everyone is hurting, and a controlled breakaway allows an easier day for most all. So, one scenario is a detente between most all teams, excepting this breakaway group. No GC contender can get away and get any significant time over rivals on a flat stage like this. A breakaway allows some single-day points and glory to be gained, with little remaining to fight for, thus allowing a modest pace for GC contenders.

The other scenario is a team or two going for the stage win. Alaphillipe decided to not go to Olympics due to new baby, and so he may be on the look-out for stages that suit him. This is one. Cavendish is looking for the record of most tour stage wins, and he is two away from tying. However, he was literally crying at the end of Sunday's mountain stage, so he may not be recovered enough to aim for this stage win. [I suspect he really wants to have a second final-stage win in Paris - watch 2012's final stage for cycling thrill.] If he is so bold, Valverde could hold his own in a non-threatening breakaway, and cap off his career with a real show of force.

A final scenario is that teams with a GC contender begin targeting Pogacar. This is possible, but not too likely. But here is how it works. One team attacks of the front with a GC contender, and Pogacar and or team have to ride hard to cover the threat. Thus, they get tired versus having an easy day. That threat gets covered. Then, another contender attacks off the front. Pogacar and or team have to ride hard to cover this next threat. Then, another attack. in this way, each attacking team expends just one attack off the front, but Pogacar and or team have to defend all three. With the three climbs, one way to do this would be to have a teammate go for the win of each of the first two climbs, then have the GC contender attack off the front to meet up with his teammate. This makes it a bit easier for each attacker team. The guy going for the climb just looks like a guy trying to win a climb, but then is in place to help do the threat to Pogacar.

Mas and Carapaz are down at almost 6 minutes, Uran down a bit more than 5. That gives 3 teams who may be thinking this way...

Thus, there is a net deficit for Pogacar / UAE. With this energy expended, Pogacar would be less ready for Stage 11...

Stage 11 is an epic widow-maker climb: Ventoux. Softening up Pogacar the day before Ventoux would be one of the few ways to hope to crack him, other than hoping he has burned enough matches already. He sure looks good lately, though.
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